Who needs coal, or cars ... or jobs or clothes
Having added a million or so Middle Eastern refugees to her nation, Chancellor Angela Merkel will now shut down all of Germany’s coal-fired power plants.
That’s quite a legacy. No coal power, no nuclear power, and refugee-populated no-go zones all over the place that even police fear to enter.
But it’s all good, according to awed Nine Media Europe correspondent Nick Miller, who is particularly impressed by the looming coal abandonment.
“A leading mainstream politician in a major industrial nation this week said the country will phase out coal power, completely, in less than two decades’ time,” Miller wrote.
“Imagine the blowback if an Australian politician — Labor or Liberal — tried that.”
Why stop there? Let’s also imagine Australia without $66 billion in coal exports, without thousands of jobs in the coal industry and with nothing to get us through winter besides the global warmth of Frau Merkel’s comforting, motherly smile.
Mere details, according to Miller: “Some muttered about higher energy prices and energy security concerns over Merkel’s 2038 coal phase-out decision.
“But just as loud were complaints that it could all be done a decade faster if the government really put its mind to it.”
Germany previously embarked on a decade-long large-scale cleansing program. That particular exercise did not generate international approval and ended in 1945.
As Oxford University academic Matthias Dilling tells Miller, Germany is entering a “post-materialist” era. Once an economy is wealthy and secure, it’s apparently time to “start embracing post-material needs such as environmental action”.
Which is fine unless people want to keep buying things or having jobs. Material needs are a constant. Post materialism lasts right up until the time you need new clothes, new furniture, new appliances or a new car.
But there may be no cars in future magical Germany, despite the automotive industry’s gigantic contribution to the German economy.
“There’s BMW in Munich, Audi in Ingolstadt, Porsche and Mercedes Benz in Stuttgart,” Miller writes. “Greens hate them all. They dream of bicycle-centred cities, of clean air.”
Well, at least Germany is aiming to wreck their own country this time around instead of storming into Poland and France. Good for them. Miller, however, seems slightly disappointed that Chancellor Merkel isn’t taking the same brutal action against cars as she is against coal.
German journalist Friedbert Meurer explains to Nine’s man why Merkel might be reluctant to end the annual production of six million vehicles and cast more than 850,000 workers into unemployment: “It is too important, too many jobs rely on it.”
Just to repeat, Nine’s European correspondent needed someone to tell him that. Thank God for local knowledge.
Still, Miller remains downcast over the continued existence of places where people build things that other folk want to buy, and his mood improves only slightly when he looks to a future without any automotive manufacturing.
“Perhaps it’s like the coal industry in the ‘90s, an industrial relic in decline,” Miller concludes. “But for now, idealism only goes so far and no further in Green Germany.”
That’s what passes for idealism in 2019, even in media that imagines itself to be mainstream.
By the way, Miller knows quite a bit about relics in decline. Before the company he works for was absorbed by Nine, it used to be called Fairfax.